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It is still unclear how committed the Daniels Administration is to a comprehensive energy policy. However, Marty Erwin, recently head of the Lt. Governor’s Energy Group and now head of the Coal Technology Institute at Purdue, discussed energy efficiency at length at the Seymour public forum on energy policy.

The first of 5 energy forums was held in Seymour the evening of October 25th. Mike Mullett, senior counsel at Mullett, Polk & Associates and CAC contract-attorney on energy issues, sparked the energy efficiency discussion. Mr. Mullett spoke to the traditional wisdom of “waste not, want not.” Of course, energy efficiency addresses both. It certainly addresses our propensity to waste energy which had led to high gasoline and heating costs. And it addresses affordability of utility bills or “want.”

He also addressed the issue of “social capital” (taxpayer or ratepayer dollars.) First of all, taxpayers and ratepayers are the same people and any effort to drain people’s pocketbooks by utility companies (i.e. the federal energy bill or the Cinergy environmental compliance plan) draws dollars from the same source. He stressed that we should employ energy strategies, such as energy efficiency, that save social capital. For instance, only 3% of the energy from a pound of coal makes it to the end-user (ratepayer). If we save that increment of energy on the customer side of the electric meter by means of more energy efficient appliances, insulation or other means, we get a 97% return on that investment in terms of energy loss.

Marty Erwin (former head of the Lt Governor’s Energy Group and now head of the Coal Technology Institute at Purdue) responded by saying:

  • The Housing Authority, now under the auspices of the Lt. Governor, will begin building super-insulated housing next year for low-income people so that they can afford to live in them units;
  • A campaign was in the works to promote EnergyStar appliances;
  • The Administration diverted funds provided by the U.S. Department of Energy to making schools and public buildings more efficient. As an example, he mentioned that a $2 million investment in energy efficient in the state office building would save $800,000 per year;
  • There would be an effort to include green building standards into state building codes in the coming years;
  • The Lt. Governor sold energy efficient light bulbs (compact fluorescent bulbs) at her office in Indianapolis last week; and,
  • Rural cooperatives have the energy efficient bulbs for sale at their offices.

There definitely appears to be some recognition by Administration officials that energy efficiency is a necessity in terms of economic development and affordability. There also seems to be recognition that energy (home heating, electricity) is a necessity for people, not a luxury.

CAC will continue to engage the Daniels Administration on the critical issue of a comprehensive energy efficiency program for the state. We hope that it will be well-received as the near term and long term foundation of the state’s energy policy.

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